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Christmas bells are ringing, and these Bells—David and Laura Bell—are spreading joy by helping customers spruce up their living spaces. Based in Searcy, Bell & the Whistle prides itself on purposeful woodworking that turns out custom nursery decor and wall art, often with depictions of forest and mountain scenes that make it possible to recall the great outdoors from the cozy indoors. Bell & the Whistle’s creative and stylish pieces are gaining in popularity as people spend more time in their homes and want to improve them.
Photos by Ashel Parsons
The Bells’ business began gradually from a shared enjoyment in upcycling and selling furniture. Bell & the Whistle launched officially in 2015 to offer mainly wall art and signs for the home, allowing David and Laura Bell to leave their careers as a mechanical engineer and an elementary school teacher, respectively, and the business has since grown to six employees in addition to themselves, producing 120 orders each week from their shop. They’ve shipped orders to all 50 states and to many countries.
Photos by Ashel Parsons
Items available for sale include nature-inspired decor, such as mountain montages cut, stained, and assembled jigsaw puzzle-style; signboards printed with phrases for the home; abstracted images; and the popular wood cutouts of children’s names in stylized fonts for nurseries and bedrooms. Laura expresses delight over seeing repeat business of nursery name signs from couples having their second child.
Bell & the Whistle also creates custom projects, like signage for businesses. “Whether it’s a statement piece for the living room or a subtle accent on a nursery shelf, we’re honored to help our customers decorate their space with all the ‘bells and whistles,’” Laura explains, revealing the basis of their business name.
A good portion of Bell & the Whistle’s design concept is based around nature. The Bells are nature lovers through and through—David is originally from New Hampshire and Laura from Tennessee, and they met working at a church camp in Maine, locales that have inspired their outdoor scenes. They settled in Searcy after David completed an engineering degree at Harding University; they love to explore Petit Jean and take their two young daughters to Riverside Park.
Of living in central Arkansas, Laura says, “We have been surprised by how quickly we can get to beautiful outdoor places,” and appreciates living in a rural area with “farmlands, hills, and woods—lots of beautiful landscapes and wildlife.” In addition to appreciating nature, Bell & the Whistle supports organizations that protect public lands, such as the National Park Trust and The Conservation Alliance. They consider their business purposeful woodworking, with responsible use of wood, stains and packing materials.
Bell & the Whistle extends its concept of purposeful woodworking to include care for employees in providing and fostering a comfortable and encouraging work environment for its six employees, including one who recently joined their team following a pandemic-spurred job loss and works remotely with a flexible schedule. The Bells are also careful to protect family time by finishing work by the evening. They also observe a true Sabbath free from work, email and social media.
During work hours, though, they work with intention and zeal, happy in a niche that incorporates the beauty of nature. “We have made it our goal to spread joy.”
Liven up a room with a special touch or shop for holiday gifts at the newly updated website.
Photos courtesy of Bell & the Whistle unless indicated
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